An outstanding number of absences in the Batesville Street Department could lead to a revision of the city’s sick day policy.
During Tuesday’s meeting the mayor and board of aldermen, Street Department Superintendent Teddy Austin told city leaders he continues to have problems with attendance.
"I can’t ever recall a week when I have had every member of my crew all week long," he said.
Austin said he has some employees who miss at least once a week when there is a lot of work to be done.
Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said something needed to be done so work can get finished in a timely manner.
"Teddy needs to know how many people are going to show up on any given day," she said. "We have got to come up with some way of stopping people from taking advantage of their sick days."
Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton said he believed the city needed to look at potential changes to the sick day policy.
"We need to find a way to resolve this absentee problem," he said.
Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley suggested a stricter policy that would require absentees to have a doctor’s excuse for every hour of work they miss.
"We need to take a close look at our policy," he said. "The federal government says if a person is abusing their leave, they can be required to furnish a doctor’s excuse for every hour they miss."
Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said that kind of a change might be too harsh, but agreed something needed to be done.
"What I think is odd is a person that misses one day," he said. "Most people who are truly sick will miss more than one day."
Yelton suggested making a person who misses one day use a leave day unless a doctor’s excuse is furnished.
"I think that might be a good way to have people stop abusing our policy," he said.
Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow asked Austin his opinion of the city’s existing policy which only requires a doctor’s excuse if a person misses two or more days of work.
"I think the policy we have is working out fine," Austin said. "There are just some people who are abusing it."
The superintendent said he has already started "writing up" people who are habitually absent from work.
"I know which people are abusing the policy and which ones aren’t," he said. "So I am going to write them up, and if it continues, I will bring them before the board."
Manley asked Austin if he was keeping a file of employees who were constantly taking sick days.
"It shows up on the time cards, but I don’t keep a separate file," he said. "I turn in sick and vacation time, and the payroll clerk keeps up with it."
The aldermen asked assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell to examine the existing policy and come up with some suggestions for improvements.
"I know I can come up with something," he said. "We just want to make sure what we settle on is legal."
The board took no action on the matter. It is expected to be discussed again in the near future.